Environmental, individual and personal goal influences on older adults’ walking in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area

Tiina E. Laatikainen*, Mohammad Haybatollahi, Marketta Kyttä

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
175 Downloads (Pure)


Physical activity is a fundamental factor in healthy ageing, and the built environment has been linked to individual health outcomes. Understanding the linkages between older adult’s walking and the built environment are key to designing supportive environments for active ageing. However, the variety of different spatial scales of human mobility has been largely overlooked in the environmental health research. This study used an online participatory mapping method and a novel modelling of individual activity spaces to study the associations between both the environmental and the individual features and older adults’ walking in the environments where older adult’s actually move around. Study participants (n = 844) aged 55+ who live in Helsinki Metropolitan Area, Finland reported their everyday errand points on a map and indicated which transport mode they used and how frequently they accessed the places. Respondents walking trips were drawn from the data and the direct and indirect effects of the personal, psychological as well as environmental features on older adults walking were examined. Respondents marked on average, six everyday errand points and walked for transport an average of 20 km per month. Residential density and the density of walkways, public transit stops, intersections and recreational sports places were significantly and positively associated with older adult’s walking for transport. Transit stop density was found having the largest direct effect to older adults walking. Built environment had an independent effect on older adults walking regardless of individual demographic or psychological features. Education and personal goals related to physical activities had a direct positive, and income a direct negative, effect on walking. Gender and perceived health had an indirect effect on walking, which was realized through individuals’ physical activity goals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number58
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number1
Early online date26 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Active travel
  • Activity space
  • Ageing
  • Personal projects
  • Physical environment
  • Public participatory GIS (PPGIS)
  • Walking


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